Ready
for the 21st Century

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first new design for an aircraft carrier since USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

Aircraft Carrier Background

The aircraft carrier, with its embarked carrier air wing, is a preeminent asset for maintenance of maritime superiority across the oceans of the globe. History has time and again shown the invaluable benefits of having the capability to bring decisive air power to bear from the sea. The aircraft carrier, combined with the ships in an accompanying carrier strike group, is capable of carrying out missions across the full spectrum of military operations, ranging from large-scale combat operations to deterrence to humanitarian assistance. Aircraft carriers are flexible and adaptable, and, by design, thanks to their size and weight, they can generate a large number of aircraft sorties to deliver the payloads necessary for the achievement of various desired outcomes in furtherance of national military objectives. Built on the legacy of both today’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and the investments the U.S. Navy has made since World War II, the Ford-class carrier will be the most advanced ship on the sea, ensuring that the Navy remains a ready and resilient force for the future.

Introducing Gerald R. Ford Class

For more than 40 years, Nimitz-class carriers have played the first-responder role in crises and conflicts. The delivery of CVN 77 in 2009 provided continued proof of the viability of the early-’60s design of the Nimitz-class carriers; these ships have served the nation well, and will continue to do so in the coming decades. Ford-class ships will begin to succeed those of the Nimitz class when Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is commissioned. While the aircraft carrier’s basic mission will remain unchanged, Ford-class ships will deliver greater lethality, survivability, and joint interoperability, along with unmatched versatility and compatibility with continuing joint-force transformation – all at a reduced operating and maintenance cost to taxpayers. Ford will be capable of carrying the Navy’s most advanced aircraft, such as the F-35C Lightning II; F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; E-2D Advanced Hawkeye; EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft; MH-60R/S helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. Adding to its versatility, Ford will also be able to recover and launch various Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft flown by the United States Marine Corps. Finally, the design margins built into the ship will allow for integration of future manned and unmanned aircraft with minimal ship alterations.

Gerald R. Ford Class Ship Facts

The Ford class incorporates advancements in technology that make the carrier more capable and more efficient, while also providing it with the ability to implement future advancements in technology with relative ease. With increased capability and reduced total-ownership costs – through, e.g., manpower reductions and innovations, such as greater electrical production from the nuclear power plant, the use of fiber-optic networks, improved corrosion control, and the use of new, lightweight materials – CVN 78 and future Ford-class carriers package increased warfighting capability and enhanced survivability in a platform that will keep pace with the threat through the course of the 21st century.

Specifically:

  • The Island on CVN 78 is smaller and further aft than that of previous carriers, increasing space for flight-deck operations and aircraft maintenance, thus enabling the ship and air wing to launch more aircraft sorties per day.

  • CVN 78 has replaced legacy steam‐powered systems with electric-drive components. With three times the electrical-generation capacity of any previous carrier, the ship is readily susceptible of future modernization with new and emerging technologies throughout its 50-year service life.

  • A Longer time between maintenance availabilities allows for increased steaming days over the life of the ship.

  • Its Improved Survivability includes improvements in hull design, firefighting systems, and weapons stowage.

  • Improved Weapons And Material Handling are provided by the Advanced Weapons Elevators, which provide faster movement of ordnance from magazines to aircraft.

  • Ford-class aircraft carriers include new and innovative technologies to launch and recover (land) aircraft.

    • The Ford-class electromagnetic-powered aircraft launch system (EMALS) offers numerous advantages over the traditional steam-powered catapults of the Nimitz-class carriers.

      • EMALS provides for more accurate end-speed control, with a smoother acceleration at both high and low speeds.

      • The system also possesses the necessary energy capacity to support an increased launch envelope and a capability of launching both current and future carrier air wing platforms – from the lightest unmanned aerial vehicles to heavy strike fighters.

    • The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system provides Ford-class ships with the ability to recover both current and projected carrier-based, tailhook-equipped aircraft, and is the follow-on system to the Mark-7 system of the Nimitz class.

      • AAG allows for the recovery of a broader range of aircraft and, through its greater control, reduces the fatigue-impact load on the recovered platforms.

      • The AAG architecture includes built-in test and diagnostic technologies.

  • Ford-class carriers include Quality of Life enhancements, such as improved berthing compartments, better gyms, and more ergonomic work spaces.

The
Crew

The Life of This Ship

The unparalleled hard work, professionalism, and dedication of the Gerald R. Ford crew is what will breathe life into the ship. The pre-commissioning crew is charged with setting, and will aim to achieve, a standard of excellence that will become the benchmark for the ships of the Ford class to come.

With more than 40 new or modified systems, the crew will continuously explore innovative training solutions, such as coordination with multiple program offices and naval education centers of excellence, as well as training with original equipment manufacturers.

 Ford CVN79 Crest Image

Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Christening Ceremony

CVN78 General Quarters

All Hands Update: EMALS

Flying Squad

PCU Gerald R. Ford Arrives at Naval Station Norfolk

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Feb. 22, 2016) -- Deck Department Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), polish the capstone inside the ship's forecastle. Construction on the ship is 97 percent complete and the crew is preparing to take delivery later this year. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Ruiz/Released)

Anchor Chains on Deck

Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors on-load ship galley supplies  in preparation for crew move aboard later this summer when the crew will begin living, working and eating aboard CVN 78.

Shipboard Navigation Under Construction

An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares to launch during a test of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System at Naval Air Systems Command, Lakehurst, N.J. The Navy has used steam catapults for more than 50 years to launch aircraft from aircraft carriers. EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for Gerald R. Ford and future Ford-class carriers.  Newer, heavier and faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult, increasing maintenance on the system. The system's technology allows for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the carrier's ability to launch aircraft in support of the warfighter. EMALS will provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms from lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles to heavy strike fighters. The first ship components are on schedule to be delivered to CVN 78 in 2011.

Launch Tests at NAVAIR Lakehurst

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (April 20, 2015) -- Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), gives a presentation on President Gerald R. Ford during the first indoctrination onboard the ship. Ford is currently undergoing outfitting and testing and is scheduled for delivery in spring 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kristopher Ruiz/ Released)

New System Training

CVN78 strut pour in foundry. Photo by Chris Oxley

Foundry Steel for CVN 78

The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding on 2/5/2013.  The Ford is the first in a class of new nuclear-powered carrier being built at Newport News for the U. S. Navy.  Photo by John Whalen, Newport News Shipbuilding

CVN 78 construction

The Island rest on the flight deck of the Gerald R Ford CVN 78. Photo by Ricky Thompson.

NNYS Construction crane

NORFOLK, Va. (April 14, 2017) -- Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors man the rails as the ship returns to Norfolk after conducting builder’s sea trials. The first-of-class ship -- the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years -- has spent several days conducting builder's sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 3rd Class Matthew R. Fairchild)

PCU Ford arrives in Norkfolk

A Newport News Shipbuilding worker cleans the dry dock floor in front of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) prior to the docks flooding 10/2/2013. Photo by Chris Oxley, Newport News Shipbuilding

CVN 78 in NNSY Drydock

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 11, 2016) -- Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), into the James River during the ship's turn ship evolution. This is a major milestone that brings the country's newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew R. Fairchild/Released)

Turn Ship Evolution

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (April 16, 2015) – Fire Controlman 2nd Class Shelby Edson and Fire Controlman 3rd Class Lawrence Batcheller insert a Load-Out Test Adapter into a Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launching system as part of an operability test. Testing of the RAM launching system is one of many milestones in preparation for the commissioning of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Litzenberger/Released)

Rolling Airframe Missile Launching System

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 5, 2015) — As part of a joint test group, Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) prepare to launch a 16,000-pound sled from the ship’s flight deck using the ship’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). Ford completed two successful “dead-load” tests on the initial test day; testing will continue over the next several weeks. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cory Rose/Released)

EMALS Catapult Test

Newport News Shipbuilding's Tosha Revere, demonstrates three dimensional Immersive Visualization techniques using a Rapid Operational Virtual Reality ROVR system, 5/26/2009.

Rapid Operational Virtual Reality

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Feb 4, 2016) --Sailors aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) participate in a firefighting drill on board the ship. As the first ship-wide drill focused on damage control and emergency responses, this was a significant step in certifying the crew as they train to fight and take delivery of the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

GQ Drill

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 21, 2015) -- Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class David Vonbehren and Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Hayden Bradford, assigned to Pre-commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), give training on the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. EMALS is the first new shipboard aircraft launching technology that has been implemented on our Nation’s aircraft carriers in 60 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cory Rose/Released)

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System

CVN 78 alongside CVN 65

Next Generation

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 2, 2015) – Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Janie Sheshbaradaran, assigned to Pre-commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), and Thomas Bain, production controller for Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) review areas and procedures for ventilation inspections aboard the ship. Ford is undergoing testing and outfitting in preparation for commissioning in spring of 2016. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Litzenberger/Released)

CVN 78 construction

A propeller and shaft for the aircraft carrier Gerald R Ford CVN 78 undergo fitting opertions at the Newport News Shipbuilding machine shop 5/22/2012.

CVN 78 Propeller Build

Gerald R. Ford CVN 78 island. Photo by John Whalen

Topside after Dark

The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) floats in the James River after being launched from dry dock at Newport News Shipbuilding, 11/17/2013. The ship will tied to an outfitting pier at the shipyard for equipment installation and testing.   The carrier is scheduled for commissioning in 2015. The Ford is the first ship of a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers built by Newport News Shipbuilding for the U. S. Navy. Photo by Chris Oxley, Newport News Shipbuilding.

CVN 78 Milestone

NORFOLK (April 14, 2017) The future USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk after returning from Builder's Sea Trials and seven days underway. During this initial at-sea period, Ford's crew, representatives from Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, the Navy's CVN 78 Program Office, the Navy's Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair and various technical subject matter experts demonstrated many of the ship's key systems. Primary risk reduction objectives were successfully met, and, as is typical with sea trials, the Navy and shipbuilder learned a great deal about the ship's performance during the extensive testing. Analysis continues, and any identified corrective actions will be addressed. CVN 78 remains on track to conduct Acceptance Trials and delivery to the Navy this spring. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl/Released)

First Arrival at Naval Station Norfolk

NORFOLK (April 14, 2017) The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time. The first-of-class ship - the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years - spent several days conducting builder's sea trails, a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Matt Hildreth courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)

Sea Trials 2017

170408-N-WZ792-207 
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (April 8, 2017) The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) underway on its own power for the first time. The first-of-class ship -- the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years -- will spend several days conducting builder's sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/Released)

Builders Sea Trials

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (March 2, 2017) – President Donald J. Trump speaks with Sailors in the hangar bay aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Trump visited March 2 to meet with Sailors and shipbuilders of the Navy’s first-in-class aircraft carrier during an all-hands call inside the ship’s hangar bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor Loessin)

Presidential visit to PCU Ford

The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) under construction in a night photo at Newport News Shipbuilding, 10/7/2013.  The Ford is the first ship of a class of new aircraft carriers being built at Newport News Shipbuilding for the U. S. Navy.  John Whalen, Newport News Shipbuilding

CVN 78 in Drydock at Night

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 5, 2015) — As part of a joint test group, Sailors from the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) prepare to launch a “dead-load” from the ship’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). Ford completed two successful dead-loads on the initial test day; testing will continue over the next several weeks. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua J. Wahl/Released)

EMALS Dead Load Test

The christening ceremony for the aircraft carrier Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) at Newport News Shipbuilding 11/9/2013.  The Ford is the first ship in a new class of aircraft carriers being built by Newport News Shipbuilding for the U. S. Navy. Photo by Ricky Thompson, Newport News Shipbuilding

Christening Ceremony 2013

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Feb. 4, 2016) --  Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) Damage Control Training Team conducts firehose training during a general quarters drill. As the first ship-wide drill focused on damage control and emergency responses, this was a significant step in certifying the crew as they train to fight and take delivery of the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua Murray/Released)

Shipboard firefighting

Ship's sponsor Susan Ford Bales christens the aircraft carrier that bears her father's name, Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at Newport News Shipbuilding, 11/9/2013.  The Ford is the firs ship in a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers being built at Newport News for the U. S. Navy.  L-R: Capt. John Meier, prospective commanding officer Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), U. S. Sen. Carl Levin and Matt Mulherin president of Newport News Shipbuilding. Photo by Chris Oxley, Newport News Shipbuilding.

Christening Ceremony